by Philip C. Stead
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This is such a wonderful book! In a time when everything in our lives feels more than a little rushed and the days of childhood seem to get shorter and shorter, Amos McGee welcomes us in for a moment of simplicity.
Created by husband and wife team Philip and Erin Stead (don't miss the circular dedication), Amos McGee is youngster in the world of literature, but will without a doubt be one of the classics. From the first time you enter the world of zookeeper Amos and his animal friends, you will feel that you grew up with this book and have loved it forever.
A story of kindness and true friendship, the soothing words are made even more endearing by the beautiful illustrations that bring this gentle world to life. Illustrator Erin Stead created the expressive artwork using woodblock prints, pencil drawings and soft, faded colors that add to the timeless feel of this exquisite book.
It takes multiple reading to see all the details in the pictures. See which ones your reader notices; for example, can you find the scholarly bird walking down the street wearing a jaunty tie? The 'Eat Vegetables' sign? How many times can you find the balloon?
In this Issue
- Inspired by Amos McGee's woodblock print illustrations, Styrofoam Plate Printmaking is an easy project to introduce the process to your young readers.
- "A spoonful for my oatmeal, please..." Amos starts each day with oatmeal and tea. Mix up our Banana-Brown Sugar Baked Oatmeal with your young ones today and start tomorrow off right!
The illustrations for Amos McGee were done with a process called woodblock printing. To make the images, the artist basically takes a block of wood and creates a stamp, carving away the negative space and leaving the image. Once the stamp is complete, ink or paint is applied, the paper is placed over the stamp and the paint is transferred to the paper.
Seeing the video below, featuring the illustrator Erin Stead explaining her process makes you realize how much work is put into each page, and might make you take a second look the next time you read Amos McGee!
Our craft this week is a very basic example of woodblock printing made with an image “carved” into a Styrofoam plate using nothing more than a blunt pencil (you can also use the non-brush end of a paintbrush or even a wooden popsicle stick). Once the stamp is made the image can be printed over and over again, so don't be surprise if your house becomes a printmaking factory!
Styrofoam Plate Printmaking
- Styrofoam plates
- Pencil with blunt point
- Cookie cutter (optional)
- Foam roller brush or paintbrush
- Washable activity paint
- Cover work area with newspaper. We found it to be quite helpful to tape the corners of the newspaper to the work area so it doesn't slide everywhere while making the print.
- Cut the rim from the Styrofoam plate so you have a flat piece to work with. All we had on hand were plates with dividers, so I just cut out one section, which turned out in the oval shape you see in the pictures.
- Using the pencil your reader can draw any sort of picture, pattern, or design on the piece of Styrofoam, or trace around a cookie cutter. The key with this step is for the design to be as deep as possible in the Styrofoam without going through the material.
- Use loops of tape on the back of the piece, tape the Styrofoam to the newspaper to prevent it from sliding.
- Using the foam brush your reader should cover the Styrofoam with a layer of paint.
- Lays a sheet of paper on the painted Styrofoam, then rub the paper the to make sure all the paint is transferred.
- Gently peel the paper away to reveal the print. Lay flat or hang to dry.
"A spoonful for my oatmeal, please..." Amos starts each day with oatmeal and tea. Mix up this healthy and filling baked oatmeal with your young readers today and start tomorrow off right!
Young Readers in the Kitchen
Kids can use a butter knife to slice the bananas and arrange them in the pan, as well as help to measure and stir the other ingredients.
Banana-Brown Sugar Baked Oatmeal
- 2 bananas
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Peel and slice bananas 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Arrange in a single layer in the bottom of the baking pan. They don't have to be evenly spaced, just spread out so each serving gets some banana!
- In a medium bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Pour oat mixture over bananas and spread evenly.
- In the same bowl, stir milk, eggs, and vanilla (really whisk it well so there are no bits of baked egg on top of the oatmeal).
- Slowly pour the milk mixture over oats.
- Bake for 30 minutes until lightly brown and set.
Amos enjoys his daily bowl of oatmeal with a cup of tea. You might enjoy our cinnamon milk with tea recipe.
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